Broadway Empire in Mystic Lake Mile

Broadway Empire - wells

The horses had departed the paddock for the racetrack on a recent afternoon when another one seemed to appear out of nowhere, circling the oval at the hand of an assistant trainer, on his toes one minute, then back at a gentle walk whenever his handler shook the lead rope.

 The horse in question was Broadway Empire. He was being schooled, and a few remaining onlookers began paying attention.

“He just looks like a real racehorse,” said media relations director Jeff Maday.

“Sometimes they just have that appearance.”

 Broadway certainly does have a certain air about him that commands attention and respect, the suggestion that he’s the man and he knows it.

 “He acts like it’s his world and the rest of us are just living in it,” said paddock analyst Angela Hermann, one of the onlookers. “He’s certainly no cupcake.”

Not by any stretch.

 Broadway Empire is a four-year-old gelded son of Empire Maker ( a son of Unbridled, by the way) and the mare Broadway Hoofer. He has raced a mere 11 times and is 6-1-0 with total earnings of $474,491.

 He will make his first start on grass Saturday in the $100,000 Mystic Lake Mile and is favored to increase his career bank account by, oh, around $60,000, the winner’s share of the pot.

 “He’s one classy dude,” said his most recent rider, Scott Stevens, who has been on Broadway in two of his last three outs, the most recent a sixth place finish in the Metropolitan Mile against some very classy competition, including Breeders’ Cup winner Goldencents and Belmont Stakes winner Palice Malice.

 Stevens knows just what to expect from Broadway each time he hits the racetrack. “He’s a professional racehorse. He gives you everything he has and he’s just naturally fast. It’s nothing you have to make him do.”

 Broadway has some quirks but they are not evident once during a race.

 “He relaxes then,” said Stevens. “Even when he’s running fast, he’s relaxing.”

Broadway’s athletic ability has been well documented. He commands attention also for his appearance. He exceeds 16 hands in height, has solid conformation and a certain regal look in his bay coat.

 “He’s really a good looking horse,” said Hermann.

 Despite his professional attitude on the track, he gets constant attention to detail, constant schooling in the aspects of his trade, simply to keep his mind focused.

 “He was a little high strung in the paddock at Belmont (before the Met Mile) but once he reaches the track he’s all business,” Stevens added.

 Broadway came to the racetrack at age two, as part of a package sent to the Arizona desert.

Trainer Robertino Diodoro received six horses from California to evaluate and wound up keeping three. Broadway was one of them.

 “They were all decent horses,” Diodoro said. “Two of them were claimed from me.”

 As for those bad habits.

 “He’s a bit quirky,” said Diodoro. “He can be a handful in the paddock and has once or twice in the post parade. That’s one of the reasons we’ve kept him with Kent (Knudsen). He’s a good hand and has been everywhere with that horse.”

 Broadway was not destined for the claiming ranks like his two stablemates, not after breaking his maiden at first asking in impressive fashion at Turf Paradise in Phoenix.

 “He won by 16 ½ lengths,” said Kent Knudsen, assistant to Diodoro and the man in charge of Broadway’s daily care. “He won that one in 1:07, about a tenth of a second off Lost in the Fog’s track record. He won the Canadian Derby by three lengths, sitting off the pace on a deep, sloppy track. He won the Oklahoma Derby by four.”

 Knudsen has been with Broadway every step of the way and agrees that the horse is indeed full of himself. “At Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup he just stood in front of the cameras, in front of everybody. The photographers were trying to get shots of Game On Dude and horses like that but he just stood there and pinned his ears. He’s a real showoff.”

 Imagine his temperament before the gelding process.

“He was really green when he came to the track, a real handful,” said Knudsen. “He was a stud colt when he arrived at two and he came off that trailer bucking, kicking and squealing. The first time I worked him he was all over the track and didn’t work fast enough to get a time.”

 Broadway began to focus once he was gelded but he still requires blinkers when he works. They come off when he races. “He trains in the morning with them. Otherwise he wants to gawk and look around,” Knudsen said. “He wore them in the first time he ran in Phoenix but we took them off when he ran in Canada.”

 They will be off for his first race on the grass, as well.

He might act up a little bit in the paddock. He might prance a little in the post parade. But in his third and closing act he will run his heart out, finishing what is best described as the definitive Broadway show.

 

BY JIM WELLS

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